27 March 2008

Saddam and Terrorism

The Iraqi Perspectives Project -- Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents

Ansar al-Islam (Iraq, Islamists/Kurdish Separatists )

The Enemy of My Enemy: The Odd Link Between Ansar al-Islam, Iraq and Iran

Jamaat al-Tawhid wa'l-Jihad
/ Unity and Jihad Group
Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad in Bilad al-Rafidayn
(Organization of Jihad's Base in the Country of the Two Rivers)

24 March 2008

Honoring Weingarten's Humor

o s, s brtu dytpmh [rtdpm/

p,h yjsy esd gimmu@ omg that was funny!

230 for pundustry. (0.10 seconds)

Rush Limbaugh is a Deweyan Democrat!

Out of Print

... The rise of what has come to be known as the conservative “counter-establishment” and, later, of media phenomena such as Rush Limbaugh, on talk radio, and Bill O’Reilly, on cable television, can be viewed in terms of a Deweyan community attempting to seize the reins of democratic authority and information from a Lippmann-like √©lite.

A liberal version of the Deweyan community took longer to form, in part because it took liberals longer to find fault with the media....
What Will Be the Fate of Newspapers?
The problem with journalism is that journalists too often create only one narrative per news event, thus they alienate those who do not see themselves in the story or, as is the case now, see themselves as empowered to construct their own narratives.
Previous: Lippman-Dewey Blogosphere
What matters isn't who "wins" or "loses" but the quality of deliberation among governors and between governors and the governed. This is where the political contest narrative breaks down. Where politics stops being about campaigns and focuses on governance. This is the dark matter in modern mass media, the lost art of journalism, press politics as it should be, and where republicans and Deweyan democrats among the governors and governed meet to deliberate unnoticed and in defiance of the "patterns of public thinking at a mass social level" (Deliberative Democracy Defended: A Response To Posner’s Political Realism, Robert B. Talisse, 2005)

23 March 2008

How to Ruin Your Group Blog

... in two easy steps!

Step 1: Allow a single contributer to dominate the blog.

Step 2: Allow that single contributer to post irrational, factually-challenged posts.

That's pretty much what's happening at Xark!. Xark's visits have dropped significantly, as can be seen by their sitemeter chart.

Xark Visits

Xark lists 13 authors in the About section of the blog. When I visited the main page today, I found that 24 of 25 posts, covering a period from 7-23 March, belonged to a single author. I don't know why the other authors have stopped contributing to Xark, but it's hurting the blog.

When Xark was conceived, Dan Conover described in excruciating detail the goals of the blog and what constituted "xarking" in a manifesto and FAQ. Instead of what was conceived, Xark has become a reflection of a single person's political and social orthodoxy ... which would be fine with me as a reader if Xark was a single author blog intended as the cathartic release for a single author.

I trace Xark's downward trend, for me anyway, to a remixed WWII poster. The original poster, called Don't let that shadow touch them. Buy war bonds. by Lawrence Beall Smith in 1942, can be found online at the Northwestern University and New Hampshire State Libraries. This poster was used at Xark, without attribution for the original artist or a citation/link to the original source, for a different purpose. Essentially, if you lack artistic talent but have a burning desire to compare fellow Americans to Nazis, you find a WWII poster with a Nazi symbol and change the words. "Remixing art" has also been a profitable tactic for such towering luminaries as Shepard Fairey and Micah Wright.

What motivated me to finally write this post is seeing Steve Wilson and Jane Akre used to provide "context on the M.O. of Rupert Murdock's corporate news philosophy" and a paranoid plea to counter the Fox-Ailes-Rove conspiracy.

Steve Wilson and Jane Akre have a webpage you can visit, although it hasn't been updated since 2005. Their chief critic has been John Sugg whose most recent articles are The Strange Case of Steve Wilson: How a fraudulent crusader snookered the left-and is threatening the First Amendment (2006) and WTVT wins final round in fight with reporters (2007). After years of Wilson and Akre "milking" the controversy, the science has not borne out their reporting, but you can still find rBST/rBGH FUD alive and well on the Internet.

Of course, none of this "context" is available at Xark.

The other irony is a link to Into the Buzzsaw, which is a recounting of "18 Tales" "mostly by serious journalists excommunicated from the media establishment for tackling subjects like the CIA's role in drug smuggling, lies perpetuated by the investigators of TWA flight 800, POWs rotting in Vietnam, a Korean war massacre, the disenfranchisement of black voters in Bush's election, bovine growth hormone's dangers and a host of other unpopular issues." These tales implicate "CBS News, CNN, The AP, The BBC and The San Jose Mercury News." What was the point of providing the Wilson-Akre/Buzzsaw link? Oh yes, the Murdoch-Ailes-Rove-Fox News conspiracy.

As of today, I'm no longer a visitor or reader of Xark!, either.

Update:
Wilson, Akre's FCC challenge dismissed

State of the News Media 2008

PEJ has published their State of the News Media covering 2007. There is more good news this year, although not on the economic front. I thought this, from the Journalist Survey, was very positive:

Journalists are ready — even eager — to embrace new technologies. They think a range of new digital activities, from blogs to citizen media, are good for journalism. They even think, by 2 to 1, that splitting their time across multiple platforms is a positive change rather than a problem that is taking time from their reporting or spreading them thin. These are all attitudes hard to imagine a few years ago.
There were also two interesting tidbits that caught my eye in the Public Attitudes section. The first was in the table on Persistent Criticisms of the Press. Notice that a majority believed in 1985 that news organizations get their facts straight, but now a majority believe that stories are often inaccurate.


July 1985 Feb 1999 Sep 2001 Nov 2001 July 2002 July 2003 June 2005 July 2007
News Organizations...
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Get facts straight
Stories often Inaccurate

55
34
37
58
35
57
46
45
35
56
36
56
36
56
39
53

Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, “Views of Press Values and Performance: 1985-2007,” August 9, 2007

I would suggest that journalists read Andrew Heyward: The Era of Omniscience is Over, take it to heart, and then implement changes to remove the expository epistemological system in journalism that lectures us in the language of 8th graders.

The other interesting tidbit is the reversal of the Republicans-Democrats gap as a percentage that have a favorable view of a watchdog press depending on the party affiliation of the President:

Percent Saying Press Criticism Does More Good than Harm


1985 1989 1994 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007

Reagan/ Bush Sr.
Clinton
George W. Bush

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Total

67
68
66
56
58
60

54

60
58
Republicans
65
63
72
60
65
51
43
44
44
Democrats
71
72
62
52
57
65
56
72
71
Independents
64
72
66
59
55
64
65
65
60
R-D Gap
-6
-9
+10
+8
+8
-14
-13
-28
-27

Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, “Views of Press Values and Performance: 1985-2007,” August 9, 2007.

It's another great report on journalism. Thanks, PEJ!